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B'nai B'rith fonds

  • CA JMABC A.1999.001
  • Fondo
  • 1886-2005

The fonds consists of administrative and operational records generated by a variety of B’nai B’rith lodges and chapters, including: Victoria Lodge #365 and Victoria Lodge #758; Vancouver Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge #668 (Samuel Lodge #668 ; Vancouver Lodge #668); B’nai B’rith Women; Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716; B’nai B’rith Youth Organization; District 4; Alec Jackson; and Lions’ Gate B’nai B’rith Building Society.

The fonds is arranged into 8 series: Victoria Lodge #365 and Victoria Lodge #758; Vancouver Lions’ Gate Vancouver Lodge #668 (Samuel Lodge #668 ; Vancouver Lodge #668); B’nai B’rith Women; Lions’ Gate Lodge #1716; B’nai B’rith Youth Organization; District 4; Alec Jackson; and Lions’ Gate B’nai B’rith Building Society.

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Phyllis Serota

Oral Interview with Phyllis Serota for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Phyllis talks about her upbringing in inner city Chicago, Illinois and her relationship with both her immediate and extended family who lived in the same neighborhood. She speaks about her religious and secular education leading to being an artist, including her discovery of art when going to art classes at the Chicago Art Institute, and at the University of Victoria. Phyllis and her family relocated to Victoria due to the political climate of later 1960s America. Phyllis discusses her career as a painter including her painting style, her way of selling art, and painters who inspired her. She talks about her life in Victoria, and how her wife, place of residence, and institutions inspired her work. She closes with the importance of her place in the queer community, and the acceptance of her queer identity in the Jewish community.

Bertha Baron

Oral history with Bertha Baron who arrived in Canada 1907 from Minsk, Russia; settled in Rumsey, Alberta. In this interview she discusses her involvement in the Victoria Jewish community and reflects on Zionism.

Josephine Lancaster and Daisy Minchin

Oral history interview with Josephine Lancaster and Daisy Minchin, cousins, both were born in Victoria, in 1893 and 1892 respectively. The cousins recall the communities reaction, demolishing a number of Jewish businesses, to the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915; because Victoria's Jewish community consisted of mainly Germans and Englishmen, when they found out that Lieutenant James Dunsmuir, Jr., Robert Dunsmuir's son, has perished. Josephine is a member of the Victoria Chapter Hadassah while Daisy is associated with B'nai B'rith Auxiliary in San Francisco, in L.A. divisional president of Council of Jewish Women; Florence past president of B'nai B'rith.

Dr. Jacob Narod

Oral history interview with Dr. Jacob Narod. He was born in Vilna and talks about the antisemitism there while growing up. At 22, he escaped and went to London. Then he went to New York, but he didn’t like it so he with to St. Louis, he worked in Scaffolding there. Next, he went to Portland and then up to Vancouver in 1910. He heard that Vancouver was a beautiful city. He talks about people (names and occupations) who moved to Vancouver during that time. He took a course in Chiropody and opened and office in 1929. The depression hit and he moved to Victoria in 1936. He talks in depth about the Victoria Community with a focus on the Synagogue during the war, entertaining the Jewish soldiers and helping refugees. He moved back to Vancouver in 1949. He was an active member of B’nai Brith.

Horace Raphael

Oral history interview with Horace Raphael who was born in Vancouver, 1920. His grandfather was born in Germany, 1832, and his grandmother was born in Poland. While his mother was born in Winnipeg and his father was born in Poland but left for Vancouver between 1904-05.

Nancy Halpern

Oral interview with Nancy Halpern. Interviewed by Samantha Stokell for SLAIS Oral History class.

Nancy's father's family moved to Vancouver in 1906, when her father Norman Brown was less than six months old. She has stories of her own life in the Vancouver Jewish community and those of her grandparents and parents. She was involved in drama and theatre in the Vancouver and Spokane, WA areas, and worked as a librarian in Vancouver. She was also involved in creating the West Vancouver Jewish Community Association.

Nancy mentions her cousin's daughter, Barbara Liskov (née Huberman) from the States, a professor at MIT who was the first woman to graduate in Computer Science in the U.S., and who is a winner of the Turing Award.

Ralph Levy

Oral interview with Ralph Levy. Interviewed by Molly Kumar for SLAIS Oral History class. Ralph Levy was born in February, 1934 in Istanbul, Turkey. He is the youngest of four. He describes the language Ladino, which he speaks fluently. He lived in England as a child, where he witnessed the Blitzkrieg and attended post secondary there in Lester. He served in the British Military and was stationed in Egypt for two years. He met his wife in Lester and they were wed in 1957. After closing his marketplace business in England, he lived in the south of France till a storm struck. In 1968, he immigrated to Canada. He initially settled in Melfort, Saskatchewan, then went to Calgary, Fort McMurray and then moved to Victoria where he resided for thirty years before retiring in Vancouver.

Brigitte McKenzie

Oral interview with Brigitte McKenzie.Interviewed by Kaitlin Findlay for University of Victoria Public History class project.

Interview is about the desecration of the Emanu-El cemetary in Victoria in 2011; explores how the community reacted to this event and the role of historians in preserving historic sites such as this.

In the interview, Brigitte describes her memories of the desecration; her thoughts about the vigil and the community response; her personal valuation of the Emanu-El cemetery as a neighbor who appreciates the cemetery’s beautiful appearance as well as its sacred and historical resonance; her opinion on what historians can do in the wake of such an event; and her own experiences with the sacredness of cemeteries.

Leah Levitt

Follow-up oral interview with Leah Levitt. Interviewed by Debby Freiman. Leah talks about her extended family, education, and her involvement with B'nai Brith Girls and the National Council of Jewish Women.

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